George Barrett – Following studying Geography as an undergraduate at Sheffield I decided to study for a Masters in International Development and Public Health. At the end of the course I am looking to pursue a career in Corporate Social Responsibility, with a view to going into cross-sector partnership brokering. Therefore after spending time on the Geography Society committee in 2013/14, a position on the SIDshare committee provided me with a valuable opportunity to gain further experience within the Third Sector. SIDshare’s benefits are two-fold in that it provides Sheffield students with valuable volunteering opportunities with national and overseas NGOs, whilst providing such organisations the opportunity to outsource work to the Sheffield student body.
Funded by University of Sheffield Enterprise, in November I attended the annual Crowdfunding Deep Impact Conference on behalf of SIDshare, with regards sourcing funding a current SIDshare project involving the construction of the Field Centre with a partner organisation in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.
Crowdfunding represents a revolutionary medium to source start-up capital for small and medium enterprises, via rewards-based, equity-based or match-funded online campaigns.Founded in the US, it is now widely estimated that populations across 160 countries have access to a range of crowdfunding platforms. I intended the conference with the view to analysing the extent to which crowdfunding can be viewed as a viable source of funding for Third Sector organisations.
The conference entailed a range of talks from leading crowdfunding practitioners and academics. Professional footage and text were posited as central to fully- or over-funded campaigns, given relatively low average success rates of 25-28%. It was additionally highlighted that those with higher levels of social capital are on average 33% more likely to be successful, than those with smaller social networks. Furthermore, female-led campaigns were considered 2.2 times more likely to be successful than male-led campaigns. It was suggested that for projects to be successful, potential funding needed to be sourced prior to the campaign going live, a thunderclap needed to be achieved on social media and 80% of funding achieved within the first two days of the campaign in order to eventually be entirely funded. However, despite 74% of unsuccessful first-timers recommending crowdfunding, and a 78% admitting they would try again, it was suggested that 50% of respondents in one particular survey felt they could source the funds elsewhere. Therefore suggesting that for crowdfunding to be a viable and secure means of funding for Third Sector organisations, campaigns need to be carefully planned given the serious potential ramifications of campaign failure.
On a personal level SIDshare projects and campaigns provide me with worthwhile experience, and the ability to liaise with a variety of stakeholders within the Third Sector. It is hoped that through the advice gained from the Deep Impact conference, we will be able to source suitable funding to advance with the Field Centre project.